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Immigration reform plans take shape

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After President Obama and a bipartisan group of senators separately released immigration reform frameworks earlier this week, points of contention began to emerge.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), said in a statement that "we cannot support reforms today unless they hinge on gaining operational control of our borders."

He went on to describe some border security measures he'd support but did not weigh in on the potential for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the senators behind the bipartisan comprehensive framework, has taken issue with what he says is "the President's unwillingness to accept significant enforcement triggers before current undocumented immigrants can apply for a green card."

The president's plan is also inclusive of same-sex couples, while the Senate group's plan leaves them unmentioned.

House Republican leaders apparently plan to wait for the Senate to act on immigration reform before it does, according to a report in Politico.

The bipartisan Senate plan, released Jan. 28, would increase surveillance technology along the border, require a system to track when visitors to the United States exit the country, and strengthen verification of employee immigration status.

A commission of officials and leaders from the southwest border region would determine when the border security requirements have been met. Eventually, illegal immigrations who pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes, and learn English could receive permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship.

The plan says it would offer a simpler path to citizenship for those brought to the country illegally as minors. It would also make it easier for certain highly educated immigrants to remain in the United States and allow more low-skilled immigrants to work legally.

President Obama's plan, which also notes the importance of border security and employee verification, stresses that a path to citizenship would be key to reform. That "won't be a quick process, but it will be a fair process," Obama said in a Jan. 29 speech.

For more:
- read the Senate group's plan
- read President Obama's plan

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